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iPhone 3.0 autofocus camera, compass, UI outed in China

Chinese blog UMPCFever (translated link) has photographically confirmed two previously rumored features of the iPhone OS 3.0—an autofocus feature for the still picture camera, and a digital compass—along with new details on their user interfaces. Believed to rely upon new camera hardware found in the upcoming 2009 iPhone, the autofocus feature places a blue box on the existing camera screen to show the current area of crisp focus, enabling users to move the focus area with finger gestures. Sample images show the new camera producing notably sharper, if less colorful images than a prior-generation iPhone camera used for comparison.

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Separately, UMPCFever shows an image of a new magnetic compass application, which provides a digital readout and a full rotating analog compass on screen. The application appears to be similar in graphic design to Apple’s voice recording software, previously revealed in beta versions of the iPhone OS 3.0, and is expected to be available only for the 2009 iPhone due to hardware changes. Additional photographs add further credence to previously discussed new features, such as a movie recording mode, and suggest additional debugging tools will be available to help optimize CPU performance.

Last Weekend to enter the FastMac TruePower iV Giveaway

If you haven’t yet submitted your entry for our FastMac TruePower iV Giveaway, there’s still time to do so. In our Giveaway of the Month for May, ten lucky iLounge readers will receive a FastMac iV Battery Extender and Charger for the iPhone or iPod touch. To enter, simply fill out and submit the form on the giveaway page—the giveaway will end on May 31, 2009 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!

Mix: BeatRider Touch, Sims 3, Hero of Sparta, Doom Classic

BeatRider, a new rhythm game, has been released in the App Store. Similar to the popular Tap Tap series of games, BeatRider players tap the screen along with the rhythm of the music. BeatRider, however, allows players to use their own music when playing the game, rather than only canned music provided within the application itself. As the Apple SDK does not currently provide the ability for third-party applications to access the device’s music library, BeatRider uses a hosted web site where players can upload their own tracks in MP3 or M4A format. BeatRider is available from the App Store in both a full version for $5 and a free lite version.

Apple and Electronic Arts have released demonstration versions of the highly-anticipated game, The Sims 3 in Apple Retail stores in advanced of the game’s release on June 2. At the Apple Store, customers can use the “Create A Sim” feature to test-drive the game by creating their own unique Sim characters. [via MacDailyNews]

Gameloft has begun to release “lite” versions of some of their games, such as Hero of Sparta (iLounge rating: A-) which provide single-level demo versions that users can try before purchasing the full games. As many of the Gameloft titles have rated high or general recommendations from iLounge, these lite versions may be of special interest to readers.

Doom creator John Carmack has posted a progress report on his iPhone Doom Classic project, describing the development process and some of the challenges he has been facing in bringing Doom to the iPhone platform. Specifically, Carmack indicates while making Doom run on a new platform is relatively simple, “making it a really good game on a platform that doesn’t have a keyboard and mouse or an excess of processing power is an honest development effort.”  Carmack states that he is making good progress and hopes to have Doom Classic available on the App Store by next month.  [via TouchArcade]

Hulu releases streaming HD video viewer Hulu Desktop

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Hulu, the TV network-supported streaming online video service that was started in response to the growing video section of the iTunes Store, has recently released a beta version of Hulu Desktop, a full-featured client application for the Hulu service that allows users to turn a 2.0GHz dual core Mac or Windows PC into a Hulu media center. Hulu Desktop is designed to work with standard keyboards, Windows Media Center remote controls, or Apple remote controls, and can easily be controlled with just six buttons, allowing users to navigate between menus, select content to watch, play and pause content, scan forward or back through the currently-playing video and adjust the volume. An iPhone app version is expected in the near future.

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Similar in concept to Apple’s Front Row and Microsoft’s Windows Media Center applications, the Hulu Desktop is designed to make Hulu’s entire library of content more readily available to Hulu users without having to rely on a web browser, enabling access to TV shows, movies, and short video clips with commercial sponsorship rather than download charges. The initial release of the Hulu Desktop is as a beta so that Hulu can gather user feedback to improve the service. Hulu Desktop is available as a free download from http://www.hulu.com/labs/hulu-desktop in both Mac and Windows versions, and requires an Intel Core Duo 2GHz CPU, 2GB of RAM and Flash 9 to be installed. It is presently available solely for U.S. users.

U.S. and HD TV come to Canada’s iTunes, U.S. TV discounts offered

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The Canadian iTunes Store today began to offer television content from several major U.S. television networks in both standard and high-definition. The U.S. networks now showing on the iTunes Store include ABC, NBC, Fox and Warner Bros, and though not all content from these networks is available in Canada yet, the content that is available encompasses many of the most popular TV shows: Heroes, Lost, The Office, Grey’s Anatomy, 30 Rock, Fringe and others. At this time, the available content includes only current-season episodes, and it is unknown whether previous seasons will be added in the future.  Previously, only some Canadian content and a very limited selection of non-prime-time U.S. content was available in the Canadian iTunes Store, none of which was available in HD. TV shows on the Canadian iTunes Store are priced at $2.49 CAD for standard-definition content, and $3.49 CAD for high-definition content.

In related news, the U.S. iTunes Store is offering a “limited time” promotion on certain SD + HD TV programs from the CBS and CW networks. Discounted shows include CSI, CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, 90210, NCIS, Numb3rs and Survivor, all selling for $0.99 US for SD episodes or $1.99 US for HD episodes.

Palm Pre will sync with iTunes

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According to a report from CNN Money, the upcoming Palm Pre will sync with iTunes out of the box with no third-party software required. The Palm Pre appears to iTunes in the same way that an iPod or iPhone would, except that FairPlay-protected content cannot be transferred to the device.

Although very early versions of iTunes for Mac provided direct support for other MP3 players, and third-party programs have long been available to allow various non-Apple MP3 players to sync with iTunes, this is the first example of an apparently unauthorized, non-Apple device actually providing its own direct iTunes integration. Not surprisingly, many of the Palm Pre engineering and development team are former Apple employees, including Jon Rubinstein, one of the designers of the original iPod. The synchronization feature works with both PC and Mac versions of iTunes.

Mix: Reportage, iPhone security benchmark, WiFi Cafe Spots, iPhone patents

  • May 28, 2009

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WhereCloud has announced its new application, Reportage described as a “radically different” Twitter client for the iPhone. Instead of the traditional timeline view, Reportage lays out a Twitter feed using a radio paradigm, with friends appearing as “radio stations” that you can “tune in to.” Reportage is $3 and is available from the App Store.

The nonprofit Center for Internet Security yesterday released a consensus security benchmark for the iPhone aimed at helping IT managers and users reduce the risk of stored data being compromised. This free benchmark takes users through more a series of more than 20 simple recommendations for iPhone settings and iPhone Configuration Utility policies that can help to improve security and reduce the chances of a remote attack. The iPhone benchmark applies to iPhone OS v2.2.1 and the iPhone Configuration Utility v1.1.043. [via Computerworld]

A new application, WiFi Cafe Spots provides a database of over 14,000 cafes and restaurants with free Wi-Fi access. The database includes locations in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia, and is stored directly on the iPhone or iPod touch so that it can be used without requiring Internet access. The app supports location-based services to find a Wi-Fi hotspot near the present location or users can search by city or postal code. WiFi Cafe Spots is $3 and is available from the App Store.

Apple has won another iPhone-related patent, this time for the original iPhone’s casing design, highlighting elements such as a divided construction and the top and bottom ports. Assorted speakers, buttons, and the position of the camera can also be seen in the patent diagrams. Several individuals are credited for the work, including Apple’s lead designer Jonathan Ive and CEO Steve Jobs. [via MacNN]

Mix: Google Latitude, Brushes, Unisys, International App Store broken

  • May 28, 2009

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During its keynote address at the Google I/O conference, Google demonstrated its Latitude personal location mapping and sharing service running on the iPhone. The Google Latitude service was launched earlier this year for the Android, Blackberry, Symbian S60 and Windows Mobile platforms, with an iPhone version conspicuously absent by its omission. Google reportedly is waiting for the iPhone 3.0 software release as it is using a browser-based application to provide location-based services. Versions of the iPhone OS prior to 3.0 do not provide access to the iPhone’s GPS or location services from the Safari browser. The Latitude web application for the iPhone will run directly in the Safari browser, using similar HTML 5 capabilities to those used by Google’s recently upgraded GMail web application. [via TechCrunch]

The New Yorker Cover painted using an iPhone app has resulted in a surge in popularity for the Brushes app which was used to create the cover. Steve Sprang, the software developer who created Brushes has reported a significant boost in sales after the news of his app being used to create the popular magazine cover. Sprang noted that this week his application had its highest selling day since it was first released last August, with 2,700 copies sold in a single day, exceeding sales generated even by Apple’s own promotions. [via The New York Times]

Unisys Corporation, a developer of high-end enterprise mainframe solutions announced that it is adding a range of enhancements to its ClearPath family of mainframe servers to help to provide support for specialized applications and “integration of devices such as iPhones and iPods,” tacitly acknowledging that the iPhone is spreading more widely into the corporate and enterprise space. [via MacDailyNews]

Some developers have reported that the international distribution of iPhone applications is not being handled efficiently by Apple, with many apps appearing for sale on only some international App Stores, or taking an unreasonable amount of time to appear in other countries. [via MacNN]

360|iDev iPhone Developer Conference

The second 360|iDev iPhone Developer Conference has been announced and will be held in Denver, CO from September 27-30, 2009. Held in San Jose in March, the first Conference offered hands-on training and conferences hosted by experienced iPhone developers on a variety of iPhone development topics, as well as opportunities for iPhone developers to meet up and network. Registration is open now, with the first 100 registered attendees receiving a discounted price of $360, as compared to the normal registration price of $480. Attendees at WWDC can qualify for a special registration price of $200 by meeting with the 360|iDev organizers. A call for papers is also open, and will run through Apple’s WWDC for those developers who may be working on applications for the new iPhone 3.0 OS. More information can be found on the 360|iDev web site.

Purported next-gen iPhone bezel shows speaker, color changes?

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Images from Hong Kong depict several significant changes from the bezels of prior iPhones to the next-generation model, if their source is to be believed. Listings pages from Hong Kong-based part vendor China Ontrade depict what the company claims to be the first next-generation iPhone parts to be supplied directly from the factory, including liquid crystal displays and front bezels. Notably, the bezels appear to show a repositioned and redesigned ear speaker, now significantly higher above the display than the present speaker, and ringed with metal, a change that may make room for additional front-mounted sensor or camera hardware. Alternately, the metal ring may be there to protect a front-facing camera from smudging.

Also changed is the bezel’s color, which has shifted from the prior silver in all iPhone and iPhone 3G models to a nearly black metallic color reminiscent of the backs of later fifth-generation iPod U2 Special Edition models. In the photos, the bezel now stops short of ringing the entire iPhone face, ending at roughly the edge of the LCD screen. The site does not specify what differences there are between the new iPhone’s screen and its predecessor, but the company lists the new screen at $73 versus $35 for the prior version. It is unclear whether the bezel and screen are legitimate components, as China Ontrade sells both identical and modified aftermarket parts for prior-model iPhones. [via iFun.de]

AT&T doubling 3G network speeds, expanding coverage

AT&T announced today that it will be upgrading its existing 3G network to provide significantly faster mobile Internet speeds. The upgrade to High-Speed Packet Access technology will provide 7.2 Mbps speeds, doubling the current 3G network speed and serving as a step toward the deployment of an even higher-speed LTE (4G) network in the future. In addition, AT&T has announced plans to enhance its mobile broadband coverage by nearly doubling its wireless 3G spectrum in most metropolitan areas to provide better in-building coverage and network capacity. These improvements will be rolled out later this year, and the company expects to have them fully deployed by the end of 2011.

Sirius XM depicts iPhone app, shopping feature

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During a summit for shareholders today, Sirius XM displayed a slide revealing a screenshot of its forthcoming iPhone app. From the presentation, it appears that users will be able to browse audio programming by categories, channels and favorites. The app also appears to include a “shopping” feature which may integrate with the iTunes Store. While the app itself is expected to be available as a free download from the App Store, a Sirius XM radio subscription will be required. Subscribers may also be required to add an additional $3/month “streaming” package to their existing subscriptions. [via MacDailyNews]

Apple releases iPod shuffle 3G 1.1 software, VoiceOver Kit

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Apple today released a software update for the third-generation iPod shuffle and a new version of its VoiceOver Kit.  The iPod shuffle (3rd Generation) Software Version 1.1 is listed as fixing a “rare issue where audio playback would occasionally stop” as well as providing “other minor bug fixes” and support for the new VoiceOver Kit. As with other iPod software updates, the iPod shuffle 1.1 Software is downloaded and installed via iTunes itself.

The VoiceOver Kit 1.1 update is available as a separate download through Apple’s Software Updater, and adds support for Cantonese Chinese, Danish, Finnish, Korean, Norwegian and Russian languages. The update also includes minor bug fixes for English, French, Japanese, Mandarin, Polish and Spanish voices. The VoiceOver 1.1 update requires iPod shuffle Software Version 1.1. Both updates are available now.

iPhone consumes 43% of world smartphone traffic, 59% in U.S.

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A report released today by AdMob Metrics indicates that the iPhone and iPod touch accounted for 43% of worldwide smartphone Internet traffic in April and 59% of the smartphone traffic in the U.S. Nokia was in second-place worldwide at 35% and Research in Motion second-place in the U.S. at 17%. Worldwide HTML mobile browsing usage from the iPhone was 65% overall. This comes despite the iPhone presently having an 8% worldwide smartphone market share.

The report also indicates that the iPhone and iPod touch together accounted for 26.2% of requests worldwide, suggesting that many iPhone and iPod touch users are transferring larger amounts of data per request than users of other smartphone models. [via CNN Money]

Mix: Yahoo on iPhone, AT&T switch, Zune HD, Wireless Sync

  • May 27, 2009

According to a recent report, Yahoo is scaling down its smartphone application development to focus more on applications for the iPhone. Beta testers of Yahoo’s Java-based mobile app reportedly received an e-mail this week stating that Yahoo has “ceased development” of that application and that the company will “focus efforts on the newly launched Yahoo Mobile experience for browsers and for the iPhone.”

AppleInsider reports that the iPhone has been a significant factor in encouraging many new customers to sign up for AT&T, now believed to be attracting a “full third of those switching providers towards AT&T.” Of the 13 percent of those surveyed who indicated that they were looking to leave their existing cellular providers, 33% indicated that they would move to AT&T when the time comes, versus 24 percent toward Verizon.

Microsoft has officially announced the Zune HD for a Fall release. The new device is positioned as a competitor to the iPod touch, and will include a 3.3-inch 480 x 272 OLED capacitive touchscreen display, built-in HD radio receiver, and HD video output via a dock. The device is reported to use a full multi-touch interface similar to that found on the iPod touch. Other details such as pricing and storage capacities have not yet been announced. [via Engadget]

Ex-hacker “DVD Jon” Johansen, best known for breaking the copy-protection on DVDs recently stated that his new firm DoubleTwist will be working to provide wireless synchronization for the iPod as well as developing a way to sell applications without going through Apple. It is unclear which particular models of iPod he is referring to and seems likely that these solutions would be implemented outside of Apple’s normal channels, without Apple’s blessing.

Apple announces Back to School Mac/iPod deal

Apple today announced the start of its annual Back to School promotion whereby students and educators can receive a free 8GB iPod touch or less expensive iPod model when purchasing a qualifying Mac computer. To be eligible for the promotion, an educator or student must purchase a new MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, or Mac Pro at the educational price and purchase an iPod at the same time. Students can then mail in their proof of purchase from their Mac to Apple to receive a rebate for the value of the iPod, up to $229. Additional qualifying iPod models include the third-generation 4GB iPod shuffle, fourth-generation 8GB and 16GB iPod nanos, 120GB iPod classic, or more expensive iPod touches; the iPod classic’s rebate is $20 short of its full price, and the rebates for more expensive iPod touches are capped at $229.

The Back to School promotion is available in the U.S. and Canada from May 27, 2009 through September 8, 2009.

Pioneer announces new AV Receivers for iPhone and iPod

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Pioneer announced today that it is now shipping three new AV receivers that provide iPhone and iPod integration. The new VSX-819AH, VSX-919AH and VSX-1019AH promise a seamless user experience for iPhone and iPod owners, allowing users to simply plug their iPhones or iPods into the receivers, then utilize a full-color graphic user interface complete with album art, controlled via a remote control that can easily navigate through playlists. Additionally, Pioneer’s AV receivers will intuitively turn on the Auto Music-Mute function when a call is received on an iPhone, allowing users to maintain an uninterrupted entertainment experience.

“With our new line of A/V Receivers that seamlessly integrate with Apple’s iPhone and iPod, we now offer a complete solution for improved portable audio playback in the home theater realm,” said David Bales of Pioneer. “With Pioneer’s rich heritage in A/V receiver design and innovation, we are thrilled to give our customers the ability to make iPhone and iPod part of their home theater system.”

Pioneer’s new line of AV Receivers are available now for suggested retail prices of $299-$499, differing based on their audio and video performance characteristics, including increasing video upscaling capabilities, sound controls, and AV inputs.

Mix: The New Yorker, iTunes EU Music Sales, Back-to-School Promo, iPhone video downloads

  • May 26, 2009

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The June 1, 2009 issue of The New Yorker includes a cover that was composed entirely on an iPhone. Jorge Columbo, a well-known New York artist composed the cover using the Brushes iPhone app in about an hour while discretely standing on 42nd Street with his iPhone. [via Engadget]

A report from Bloomberg indicates that Apple may begin selling digital music from iTunes throughout the 27 European Union nations, provided that the company can obtain licensing rights from the music industry. Currently, consumers in countries such as Poland, Bulgaria and Slovenia are unable to purchase digital music from any iTunes Store in Europe due to territorial restrictions on music licensing. “iTunes would agree to consider making its content available to all European consumers, including those from the Eastern European countries where iTunes is currently not available” if Apple is “able to license rights on a multi- territorial basis from the publishers and collecting Societies,” Apple said in a report posted on the commission’s Web site today.

Reports are indicating that Apple may be launching its annual Back to School promotion as early as this week. In past years, Apple has offered a Back to School promotion throughout the summer, providing free or discounted iPods with the purchase of a new Mac. According to unconfirmed reports, Apple will again be offering the 8GB iPod nano and 8GB iPod touch as part of this promotion, however Apple is also rumored to be extending the offer to the 8GB iPhone as well. iPhone customers would still be obligated to sign up for an iPhone contract, and it is unclear as to whether this offer would extend outside of the U.S. [via MacRumors].

The reports of a banner ad in a recent version of the Twitterfon application points to the possibility of Movie and TV Show downloads soon being available on the iPhone and iPod touch application. The ad in question allegedly linked to a page under construction on the iPhone’s iTunes Store app, providing a listing of movie and TV show content, none of which was yet actually available for download. The ad itself has since disappeared.

Mix: Memorial Day, Eucalyptus, Cartier, IP infringement

  • May 25, 2009

As it is Memorial Day in the United States, iLounge will be on a limited publishing schedule today, May 25, 2009. Our Discussion Forums are hopping right now with iPod and iPhone Q&As and much more, so if you haven’t visited before, today would be a great chance to do so.

After initially rejecting the Eucalyptus e-book reader application last week, Apple contacted the developer on Sunday asking to have the app resubmitted for approval. Following its resubmission, Eucalytpus was quickly approved and is available for sale in the App Store for $10.

On Friday, Cartier International filed a lawsuit against Apple claiming that two applications available on the App Store infringed on the trademark for their Tank watches. The lawsuit was withdrawn a few hours later after the applications in question had been removed from the App Store and Cartier acknowledged that its concerns had been addressed. [via Reuters]

Another example of intellectual property infringement has appeared on the App Store recently, however, in the form of a game titled Luigi vs. Pac (iTunes Link), a pong-style game that pits Pac-Man against Mario, borrowing themes and graphics generously from both the Pac-Man and Mario Bros series of games. It remains unclear how or why Apple continues to approve titles that obviously infringe on well-known brands, including ones from its partner developers such as Namco; a lack of proper app reviewer training or clear infringement standards appear to be to blame. [via Cult of Mac]

Mix: Russian iPhone sales, Knock-off iPods, AT&T iPhone stock, DSLR remote

  • May 22, 2009

According to several reports, three of Russia’s mobile operators could be looking at significant contract penalties for failing to sell through their iPhone allotments. Three Russian carriers have committed to sell over one million iPhones a piece, while currently only 900,000 iPhones in total have been imported into the country. [via Engadget]

Apple Switzerland has threatened legal action against a Swiss Insurance company which gave 1,200 cheap Chinese knockoff 2G iPod shuffles to executives attending the Swiss Economic Forum. Among those in attendance who received the fake iPods was Adrian Schmucki, General Manager of Apple Switzerland AG. [via Cult of Mac]

AppleInsider reports that AT&T is also running short on new iPhone 3G units and has begun to offer refurbished units for sale instead.

onOne software has announced the submission of their DSLR Remote to the iTunes App Store. The DSLR remote provides control of certain tethered Canon EOS DSLRs from an iPhone or iPod touch device. The DSLR Remote app will be available in two versions: the $20 “Professional” version will initially be offered for $10 and will provide full control of your camera settings from your iPhone or iPod touch, as well as providing a live stream of a Live View-compatible camera’s viewfinder. A $2 “Lite” version will also be available, and useful only to fire the shutter.

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